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Jobseeker Career Advice

Back to School

Back to School

The Starting Point

Many people have regrets about underachieving at school and leaving with no – or very few – qualifications. If you fall into this category and are now attempting to enter into the world of work, there are things you can do today to help give your CV a boost. 

The starting point is to check out what your local college has to offer. Most of the UK’s major towns and cities have further education colleges, which run a variety of courses to serve the community’s educational needs. Whether you are straight out of school or looking to return to education to get some essential training under your belt, there is sure to be a course to suit you and your requirements. 


Commitment to improve your qualifications

Many employers ask for a GCSE in English and maths as standard. If you did not manage to achieve at least a grade C, you could consider going back to college to re-sit your exams. This not only shows commitment to your plan to improve your qualifications for potential employers, but it will also stand you in good stead for the future. Many colleges offer evening courses to work around any existing work commitments, so students can combine a full or part-time job with their studies.


Speak to a Local College

Colleges pride themselves on their top-class facilities and dedicated team of student support and careers advisors. If you are unsure which course to enrol on, the friendly staff will help guide you in the right direction, ensuring every individual is able to achieve their goals and embark on a path to future success. If you are worried about the financial aspect of going back to school, you may be eligible for a reduction in study fees. Speak to a member of staff at your local college to find out more.


Courses available at a range of levels

With courses available at a range of levels, you can leave college with either an entry level qualification, a level 3, or you could use it as a progression route, allowing you to take your qualifications even further. A university degree, perhaps? The subject areas that college courses cover are extensive. If you have an interest in a specific field, you are bound to find a course to enhance your skillset in that area. Example courses include art, design and photography, computing and IT, engineering, health and social care, motor vehicles, performing arts, travel and tourism, business management, construction, hairdressing and beauty therapy, hospitality and catering, journalism, childcare and teacher training, health and safety, and sport and fitness. If you have a qualification in hairdressing, for example, you are then in a position to apply for a junior role in a salon. Some employers will also send individuals back to college to earn extra qualifications whilst they work. Colleges often have strong relationships with local employers, assisting students in finding suitable roles upon completion of their course. So, in undertaking a further education course, you are certain to make new contacts. And this could prove extremely useful in securing your first job after college.


Apprenticeship Route

If you like the idea of learning new skills whilst getting paid, an apprenticeship run by your local college could be exactly what you are looking for. The programmes combine college-based learning with practical, on-the-job training in the workplace. At the end of the apprenticeship, you achieve a nationally-recognised qualification, unrivalled work experience and excellent career prospects. It is not uncommon for employers to take on the apprentice they have just trained with an entry role at their company, so be sure to make your apprenticeship count!

Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of popular vocations including beauty therapy, bricklaying, engineering, hairdressing, plumbing, vehicle repair and childcare to name a few. Anyone over 16 can apply for an apprenticeship, whether leaving school, employed or unemployed. Depending on your existing qualifications, you can apply for any of three types of qualification; Level 2: Intermediate Level Apprenticeship (equivalent to five A* GCSEs), Level 3: Advanced Level Apprenticeship (equivalent to two A-levels), Level 4: Higher Apprenticeship (foundation degree level). You will need to speak to your local college’s career advisor to find out which apprenticeship is suitable for you.


Go back into Education

Going back into education, whether it’s the September after you leave school or some years down the line, is a difficult decision, but it is likely to be one you will not regret. Achieving qualifications makes you more attractive to potential employers. If they have two candidates for one job, and the first one has a college course to their name while the other one has only one or two GCSEs, they are almost certain to go for the first candidate.

In short, learning new skills shows commitment, motivation and enthusiasm – all qualities that employers will be looking for – as well as improving your knowledge in a certain field, helping to make your future bright.